Shikari Shambu, Tantri the Mantri and Suppandi
It was the wee years of the nineteen hundred and eighties. Television didn’t air Cartoon Network, cyber space was still confined within the peripheries of laboratories and MMS was a distant dream. Kids played real games requiring physical exertion. And also read a lot of comics. During those days of idyllic endeavours it was usually the American fare, which captivated minds of a generation just out of their diapers (now reading and writing blogs). The desi stuff wasn’t much to boast about (of course, as always there were exceptions). A scientist by education, but an entertainer by vocation – Anant Pai, aka Uncle Pai – initiated a comic magazine called Tinkle. A place where learning meets fun.

Tinkle 25th AnniversaryThis was 25 years ago. In this quarter of a century Tinkle has added a lot of sparkle to a lot of lives. Shikari Shambu, Suppandi, Tantri the Mantri, Kalia the Crow, Pyarelal, Nasruddin Hodja, Raghu, Anwar and many more who I cannot presently recall became nicknames of kids in school. A dedicated team of cartoonists and able story tellers (most often readers themselves) led by Uncle Pai made their way into the hearts of millions. Ram Waeerkar was my favourite. I loved the way he drew the eyes, especially of animals. Notable mentions include Sanjiv Waeerkar (a relation of Ram’s?), VB Halbe, Prasad Iyer, Pradeep Sathe and Archana Amberkar.

Published by India Book House, who also have another institution to their credit – Amar Chitra Katha, Tinkle hasn’t really got it’s due. It has stubbornly withstood the onslaught from beyond the borders as well as the cheap and tasteless Indian fare – which ranged from the gross to the utterly disgusting. In this cacophony of blood, gore, cleavages, dumb humour and now television and the internet, Tinkle stood its ground and dutifully continues to educate and entertain the generations.

But Tinkle’s 25th anniversary special edition didn’t live upto my expectations. There wasn’t much ‘special’ about it. A trip down the nostalgic lane would have perhaps contented veteran Tinkle fans like me. I genuinely feel that that they can do much better with their existing resources.

It’s a sad fact that the characters like Nagraj and those created by Pran – Chacha Chaudhary, Billoo, Pinki etc., are far more recognised and read. Does someone remember Bahadur?

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  • Admin

    Ah! bahadur only reminds me of the curves of Bela.. I am great fan of Indrajal comics and of course tinkle… Supandi and Nasruddin Hodja being my fav characters..Buddy there is a great Blog called the comic project.. it is called< HREF="" REL="nofollow">TCP<> you will enjoy…

  • Accidental Fame Junkie

    I really loved reading about the adventures of Shikari Shambu, Suppandi, Tantri the Mantri, Kalia the Crow, Pyarelal, Nasruddin Hodja….Infact my brother, another equally avid reader of Tinkle, used to tell the antics of Supandi to an eager audience in our summer holidays in Calcutta! So much was Supandi popular that when my boudi was expecting a child, someone in the family -I don’t remember who now – wanted to name the child Supandi! I’m so glad you have written about them.

  • Accidental Fame Junkie

    I think you will like < HREF="" REL="nofollow">this article.<>.

  • Rita

    Yes, Tinkle was a delight and it still is!! I loveeee shikari Shambhu and Supandi.“In this cacophony of blood, gore, cleavages, dumb humour and now television and the internet, Tinkle stood its ground and dutifully continues to educate and entertain the generations.” – I totally agree with your statement.

  • Anonymous

    You can also add the ajit ninan toon that used to appear in the now defunct mag ‘target’, detective moochwala and the fabulous ‘gardhad das’ by neelabh & jayanto. those were great comic characters too. not remembered much now, but they had been real good. when i think back on my childhood, these were the indian comic characters that gave me the most pleasure.

  • Anonymous

    “Does someone remember Bahadur?” A better way of putting this would have been “Does anyone remember Bahadur?”

  • Soumyadip

    Yes, <>Target<> was wonderful. The mustached detective and his pet Pooch, the vocals of Ghardab Das. Pity the Living Media guys closed it down and came up with a crap called <>Teens Today<>. Ajit Ninan’s ‘Ajit’s World’ (or something similar sounding) was also funny, but occasionally I found uncanny resemblance of the plot with the tiny fillers in <>Mad<>.

  • Soumyadip

    <>Anonymous,<> thanks for the tip. It’s just the way I write – sounds correct only to my eyes. (sound and eye?)

  • Shivangi Misra

    Oho, Now I am all nostalgic.

  • The Comic Project
  • dwaipayan

    i remember bahadur. but i didn’t like that much. my favourite was chacha chowdhury, phantom(we used to call it betal), handa bhonda and batul the great. i also liked mandrake. in fact when i was admitted to hare school at college st. i was really happy to see that i can buy comics at rs 1 per piece. in fact i bought 7 at my first day of school!!!!!!!even nowadays, i eye the bunch of indrajaal comics selling in the pavement of college st while coming back from college. and will do anything to get a bunch from someone.

  • AquaM

    Yeah, I sorely miss those times…AquaM

  • Anonymous

    yeah, i do agree with dwaipayan that handa bhonda and batul the great were good. some days back i watched interviews with the creator of these strips on some bengali channel and i really liked it. batul the great was absolutely great. the simplicity in the drawings and storylines i could relate to a bit, made them memorable to me. I also liked nonte-fonte. Of the Indian stuff not many were good. Pran’s characters though popular, lacked spirit, and the stories were uninteresting.Tinkle was great, and so were the Target strips. Foreign ones, though good one couldn’t relate to all of them. One i remember was a situation in a laundromat, something I found difficult to relate to cos India then hadn’t seen even top-loading washing machines. Archies and Richie Rich gave us a glimpse of america. Axa and modesty blaise to gime my adolescence some thrills. life was good then, reading comics day in and day out. captain america and green lantern and other obscure american superheroes. sunny and Amitabh were two comic series made from our real indian heroes. bahadur of course was an indian charcter -in and out and i loved bela. ooh what i would not do to get back to those comic reading days of mine. And yes, who can forget tintin and asterix. costly though those books were, I managed to read all of them at friends’ and cousins’ even if I couldnt afford to buy them. I’ll be back soon, to reminise about comics.

  • Soumyadip

    <>Handa Bhonda<> and <>Batul the Great<> are definitely amongst one of the best to come out of India. As a little kid when I first came across them I thought it to be a translated version of some foreign comic (I had just learnt the Bengali alphabet then) – but the Indian attire of the characters made me feel proud. I don’t know whether they have been translated to other languages as well, if not they deserve to be. <>Mama Bhanja,<> and <>Lambu Motu<> (I don’t exactly recall the names) were published in languages more than one.

  • Anonymous

    Hey… I read Tintin and Asterix when they were Rs. 60. Of course now they are like 5 times the amount. those were the days, Indrajal, tintin and asterix…. Hey by the way can anyone tell me who is the publisher of Handa Bhonda, not the magazine “sukhtara”. I need the publisher’s name.

  • anjalirego

    I am a journalist and I am working on a story. Do you know about groups that like to read and exchange Phantom and Mandrake comics. These comics were a rage in the 80s and are published even today. currently, vendors tell me that these comics disappear as soon as they land at their shops. There are collectors in Mumbai who have trunkful of these comics and who refuse to let anyone know that they have it. Im trying to locate these loyal fans. Btw, they call themselves Phans. Pls reply asap with contacts of such people on [email protected]

  • Anonymous

    Speaking of other comics….the very best one for me was Fauladi Singh!!!! How I wish that Diamond comics would reprint the entire series from the 80’s! But nope they wont, instead they continue with lame reprints of chacha choudhary (its also good but fauladi was woooooww đŸ™‚

  • Soumyadip

    <>Anonymous<>: The Diamond Comics < HREF="" REL="nofollow">site<> lists a few Fauladi Singh titles. But don’t know whether they are available or not.

  • Anand Ramachandran’s Evil Twin

    ‘Fauladi singh and Hilyan’ remains, in my opinion, remains one of the greatest creations of superhero-camp ever. There was a Tinkle rip-off called ‘Hungama’ that was also insanely funny, albeit unintentionally. You can read some scans at

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